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2010 NFL Draft Grades: Broncos Get "A" For Effort, Seattle's Overrated

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2010 NFL Draft Grades: Broncos Get

This article includes grades for the 32 clubs of the National Football League.

I try to grade a team by determining how the picks fit the big picture of the club.  Sometimes the big picture is that the club takes the best available talent and that matches the needs.

Sometimes, a reach like Tyson Alualu is better for the big picture of a team than a safe pick like Sean Weatherspoon, because success in the National Football League is determined by filling in all the holes for what is envisioned for the club.

Constant turnover is usually an indication of excessive fan-service and personnel that lack confidence in their decisions.  Conversely, some clubs have personnel that wrongly and ironically, "swing for the fence."

 

Draft Daze

In the last three days, I have felt like I was living in the Bizzarro World once foretold of in the epic poems of Seinfeld .

After looking at the Draft selections by the Denver Broncos, the only words I could conjure were: Who are these people?

By that I mean, who does Josh McDaniels think he is? 

Clearly, McDaniels has the hubris of Greek tragedy and clearly thinks he's a legend in the making by taking two project picks in the first-round: wideout Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Tim Tebow.  Those picks were made after the Broncos traded two elite players in Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler.

In years past, you would have expected the Oakland Raiders to do what the Denver Broncos just did and vice versa.  This year, the Raiders made sensible picks early with pro-ready players and took raw talent in later rounds.

Conversely, the Broncos took two projects that will define the success or failure of Josh McDaniels.  It seems that there is a new "Al Davis" in town, only this one doesn't have Hall of Fame credentials to support the cavalier nature of his decisions.

And I'm calling him out.

If you have not gathered this by now, the title of this article reflects sarcasm.  The Broncos are taking a significant risk with Thomas and Tebow. 

McDaniels meanwhile doesn't seem to understand that Denver fans want to win now and could run him out of town before he has the time to develop the two players that he's staking his career on.

In the case of Oakland, Al Davis isn't going anywhere.  But McDaniels doesn't have that same luxury.

Furthermore, I'm not buying the Kool-Aid on Seattle's draft picks just yet.  Russell Okung and Earl Thomas are solid picks, but to say that Seattle had the best draft is a stretch.

Adding quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, Leon Washington, and LenDale White by trade were decent moves, yet Seattle's best running back could in fact be Justin Forsett. 

Washington is coming off an injury and White has had weight problems.  Both could flourish; nevertheless, Washington seems to be a better fit as a return specialist with White as a short-yardage specialist.

The reason I'm not buying Seattle's draft as the best, is that there continues to be significant holes in the defensive line, while the offense still lacks a receiver that can stretch the field.

Draft specialists have touted defensive-end EJ Wilson, but I think it's dubious to expect that Wilson can make the difference as a rookie.

I know that I say this a lot, but Seattle's current defensive personnel would be a good fit for the 3-4 base defense, because Seattle has a glut of linebackers (Aaron Curry, David Hawthorne, Leroy Hill, Lofa Tatupu) and a shortage of pass-rushing defensive linemen.

The Seahawks have a trio of possession receivers in Deon Butler, TJ Houshmandzadeh, and rookie Golden Tate, but that indicates a one-dimensional offense in which Seattle will run the ball and play the short and intermediate passing routes.

With that being the case, the Seahawks will need to play stout defense in order to compete, because Seattle won't be able to play catch up.  I'm not convinced that the defense will be good enough to do that.

All of which will hinge on injury-hobbled Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.  Hasselbeck could have his last hurrah, or the Seahawks will need to turn to unproven quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

 

Here are the grades

Arizona Cardinals: B+

The Cardinals had a good pass-rush in 2009 with a sub-par nose tackle (Bryan Robinson) in the 3-4 defense. 

The addition of nose-tackle Dan Williams will likely upgrade that pass rush, while linebacker Daryl Washington likely off-set the loss of Karlos Dansby, and wideout Andre Roberts adds good measure to the corp. 

Linebacker O'Brian Schofield in the fourth round could be a steal, as he was considered first round talent before an injury at the Senior Bowl. 

Quarterback John Skelton is an intriguing prospect but is likely a far-sighted pick as insurance behind Matt Leinart and won't compete this year.

Atlanta Falcons: C+

Atlanta didn't seem to upgrade any areas of weakness, while the value of the selections is questionable. 

First round linebacker Sean Weatherspoon doesn't help the pass rush. 

The Falcons added some depth to the offensive and defensive lines with guard Mike Johnson, center Joe Hawley, and defensive tackle Corey Peters.

Baltimore Ravens: B+

Like always, the Ravens took best value. 

Moreover, this grade also includes the acquisition of Anquan Boldin by trade.  The Ravens  would trade down in the first round and off-set the loss of that pick and still acquired great value in the second round.

By doing that, the Ravens added linebacker Sergio Kindle, nose-tackle Terrence Cody, and tight-end Ed Dickson. 

Kindle and Cody had first-round grades, yet the Ravens snatched both in the second round after trading down.

Buffalo Bills: B-

The Bills are clearly moving to the 3-4 base defense with the selections of Torell Troup and Alex Carrington, both of whom are best suited for the 3-4.  This grade suffers because the Bills neglected the position of left tackle until the fifth round, and reached for Troup and Carrington.

The selection of running back C.J. Spiller with the ninth pick was a great move for a club with concerns at quarterback, and a new coach, Chan Gailey, whom wants to emphasize defense and the running game.

When you can't do something effectively, then make a strength the focal point.  Spiller could easily be the offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.

Some have speculated that the Spiller selection spells the end of Marshawn Lynch in Buffalo.  Not so fast.  The trend of late in the National Football League has been to retain at least two running backs that compliment each other: one with speed, and the other with power.

Lynch and Fred Jackson can do the dirty work, while Spiller can blow right by a worn down defense.  That could cause some resentment by Jackson and Lynch, as Spiller could get the glory from fans, but hey, if the Bills can win by doing that, then that's all that should matter.

Carolina Panthers: B

Some might think that the pick of quarterback Jimmy Clausen should make this grade higher, but the Panthers didn't need to do anything in order to get him.

The Panthers just sat back and watched as Clausen fell.  That's luck, not skill.

After Clausen, the rest of Carolina's picks seem mostly for depth, good measure, and competition, but the pick of quarterback Tony Pike in the sixth round adds unnecessary redundancy.

Chicago Bears: C

The Bears had few picks this year, which makes the grade suffer.  Chicago's top pick of free safety Major Wright in the third-round could be nothing more than a backup.

Cincinnati Bengals: B

The Bengals added a pass-catcher with Jermaine Gresham and bolstered the secondary with cornerback Brandon Ghee.  Defensive end Carlos Dunlap could allow Antwan Odom to play primarily as a rush-specialist.

Cleveland Browns: B

Many seem to be enamored by Cleveland's draft, because Colt McCoy fell to Cleveland in the third round.  Yet, McCoy won't help Cleveland in 2010. 

Bolstering the secondary with Joe Haden and T.J. Ward seemed to be good moves, but I had to wonder why Cleveland neglected the defensive-line in early rounds.

Halfback Montario Hardesty is the best pick for the here and now.  Current runner Jerome Harrison is a nice back, but lacks the power of Hardesty.

Dallas Cowboys: B

Okay, so Dallas picked up an exciting prospect in wideout Dez Bryant, a linebacker in Sean Lee that could start, and a developmental cornerback in Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.

Yet, the Cowboys did nothing to replace LT Flozell Adams or add much depth to the offensive-line.

Denver Broncos: C-

Both Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow played in gimmicking offenses and need extensive work.  Josh McDaniels is optimistic about the ability of both to learn a new system.

Moreover, Tebow came at a high cost, as the Broncos traded a second and third round pick in order to select Tebow in the first.

McDaniels is clearly putting everything on the line, which means that he's under the microscope of a dedicated fan-base that won't want to hear excuses.

After Tebow and Thomas, Denver's picks are okay with center J.D. Walton and guard Zane Beadles as potential starters.  Yet, the success of all the picks will hinge on the success of Thomas and Tebow.

But who knows, McDaniels was the goat of the 2009 off-season and yet the Broncos outperformed expectations.  That though was with Brandon Marshall.  No current receiver in Denver can make Kyle Orton look like he did in 2009 with Marshall.

Detroit Lions: B+

I loved the pick of defensive-tackle Ndamukong Suh, while offensive tackle Jason Fox could be a third day steal.  Yet, I would have liked to see Detroit do more to bolster the offensive line.

Why?

Because the Lions also traded up for halfback Jahvid Best, a player that has dealt with concussions.  Something tells me that Detroit has been spoiled by the career of Barry Sanders.  Few halfbacks can succeed with an average line, and stay healthy on top of that.

Best is a gamble and could be another Kevin Jones.

Green Bay Packers: B-

Bryan Bulaga could be a steal in the late first, but I think he's best suited to play guard. 

Of all the picks in the seventh round, defensive-end C.J. Wilson could be a stand-out in the 3-4.

Houston Texans: B+

The theme of the Texans draft seems to have been bolstering a defense that needs to compete with the Colts. 

Cornerback Kareem Jackson in the first was a good pick, while I liked the pick of halfback Ben Tate in the second as a complimentary back to Steve Slaton. 

Guard Shelley Smith of Colorado State in the sixth round could be a steal for coach Gary Kubiak, whom developed low round picks into starters as a coach in Denver.

Indianapolis Colts: B

The Colts seemed to be on auto-pilot.  The Colts contend every year, and so it's been a long time since the Colts have had to worry about the Draft.  Jerry Hughes and Pat Angerer were good picks to shore-up a spotty front seven.

Jacksonville Jaguars: C+

Everyone's favorite goat in the Draft.  Top pick Tyson Alualu came from nowhere to be the tenth overall pick.  I had the Jaguars taking Dan Williams or defensive end Derrick Morgan.

This draft gets a slight boost because the Jags stuck with defensive line prospects including D'Anthony Smith.

I'd like to cop-out and ask, what do I know?  But considering that Jacksonville's top picks (Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Reggie Nelson, Derrick Harvey) have been lackluster at best in recent years, I'm unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt.

Kansas City Chiefs: C

Still not seeing the direction of this team, despite the presence of Scott Pioli.  Broncos and Chiefs fans have made a big deal about the willingness of Josh McDaniels and Scott Pioli to replicate the New England system, but as anyone knows, a clone is always worse than the original.

All I see are two teams with delusions of grandeur, and as it is said, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

Dexter McCluster could be another Darren Sproles, yet linebacker Sergio Kindle was of equal value in the second round, and the Chiefs need a pass-rusher.

McCluster could play halfback, wideout, tight end, and return kicks and punts, but the addition also begs the question as to the role of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles.  McCluster seems to be the same type of back as Charles, while the addition of Jones seemed to add power to the running-game, but now the backfield just seems cluttered.

Safety Eric Berry is expected to be a defensive stud, but the Chiefs passed on Russell Okung to take Berry, but would add guard Jon Asamoah later.  The addition of cornerback Javier Arenas was good value, but overall, the direction I surmise from these picks is an emphasis on special-teams and a hodge-podge of raw talent.

Miami Dolphins: A

I consider the acquisition of wideout Brandon Marshall as part of this grade.  Bill Parcells never ceases to amaze as the Dolphins offset the loss of the second round pick it sent to Denver by trading down in the first round.

Regardless of that, Miami still added a desired player in defensive-lineman Jared Odrick in the first and linebacker Koa Misi in the second.  Offensive guard John Jerry in the third and linebacker AJ Edds in the fourth could be boons to their respective positions.

Minnesota Vikings: B-

Nothing exciting from the Vikings, which is what you expect from a contender. 

Usually, the weak teams make the big headlines, while the contenders sit quietly and address needs with value picks.

The Vikings would trade down with Detroit, in effect sending Jahvid Best to the Lions.

Cornerback Chris Cook, halfback Toby Gerhart and defensive-end Everson Griffen all have the potential to contribute as rookies.

New England Patriots: B

As always, the Patriots traded down and traded for future picks.  It's like wishing for more wishes.  In 2011, the Patriots now own additional picks in the first and second rounds of the Draft.

Basically, the big picture of the Patriots draft haul was to add competition and depth.  Tight end Rob Gronkowski is the only pick that I would pencil in as a starter.

Bill Belichick loves to stock-pile defensive backs, which would explain the selection of cornerback Devin McCourty in the first. 

Belichick has many defensive schemes that rely on coverage.  I would assume that he tailors his schemes to the strengths and weaknesses of the backs, and thus likes to have multiple players so as to not overload one player with too many schemes.

New Orleans Saints: B

Like the Patriots, the Saints stockpile defensive backs because the offense relies on the passing offense, which means that the opponent usually plays from behind.

The Saints added cornerback Patrick Robinson in the first, while offensive tackle Charles Brown in the second round was good value.

New York Giants: A

The Giants did a great job in bolstering the lines of scrimmage with defensive-end Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and guard Mitch Petrus.  On top of that, the Giants added a potential starter in safety Chad Jones.

New York Jets: A-

The Jets did the most with the least.

The Jets used draft picks before the Draft to acquire wideout Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

The big picture of the Jets draft was to strengthen the running-game by adding halfback Joe McKnight, fullback John Connor, and guard Vladmir Ducasse.  The Jets also stockpiled another cornerback in Kyle Wilson.

The grade suffers slightly because the Jets also released guard Alan Faneca, which puts high expectations on Decasse to fill that void.  I'm not sure that Ducasse is ready for that role.

Oakland Raiders: A

Many have tried to downplay the extraordinary change in Draft direction by the Raiders this year.

At the top of the draft, the Raiders took arguably the most NFL-ready defensive player in linebacker Rolando McClain from Alabama.  The ridiculous criticism has been that the Raiders could have traded down, which is absurd, because the Broncos were only a few spots behind.

When the top linemen all went in the top six, the Raiders did the sensible thing a took a field general for a defense that has been terrible against the run.  In the second round, the Raiders stuck to a direction by adding defensive- lineman Lamarr Houston from Texas.

The Raiders also filled a need by taking coveted cover-corner Walter McFadden from Auburn in the fifth, and a linebacker that could shore-up kick and punt coverage with Travis Goethel from ASU in the sixth. 

Special teams is an important area to address, with the AFC West featuring Darren Sproles in San Diego and now Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas in Kansas City.

Offensively, the Raiders would also add two raw talents for the offensive line in Jared Veldheer and none other than Bruce Campbell.  Wideout Jacoby Ford is an indication that Al Davis is still calling the shots in Oakland. 

I had my reservations about this pick, but the Raiders did have injury troubles in 2009 that sidelined Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins for much of the season.  Ford is a more durable receiver with speed that could make him dangerous at returning kicks and punts. 

Philadelphia Eagles: A-

The Eagles needed to revamp a sketchy defense and may have done just that by adding such talents as linebacker Brandon Graham, safety Nate Allen, and seven other defensive rookies.  Defensive tackle Jeff Owens is another seventh round pick that I think can standout in the National Football League.

This grade suffers a tad because going into the Draft, the Eagles also wanted to upgrade the running-game, but missed out on Dexter McCluster.  Instead, the Eagles took halfback Charles Scott in the sixth and fullback Clay Harbor in the fifth.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B

The Steelers did a good up in addressing the offensive line with center Maurkice Pouncey but also by addressing the defense with a bevy of rookies.

San Diego Chargers: B+

The Chargers paid a high price to guarantee the selection of halfback Ryan Matthews, but he fills a huge void. 

Considering that LaDainian Tomlinson has not been the focal point of the Chargers offense in the last few seasons, I don't expect the Bolts to miss a beat.

After that, the Chargers also grabbed a potential steal in nose-tackle Cam Thomas in the fifth.

Seattle Seahawks: A-

The Seahawks started with a bang by getting offensive-tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas.

After that, I don't see much that can help Seattle in 2010.

Based on many reviews, you'd think that Seattle will be a contender in 2010, but Seattle still has much work to before that, because they aren't good enough to match Arizona and likely won't be better than San Francisco.

San Francisco 49ers: A-

The 49ers seem to be sticking with Alex Smith as the quarterback of a run-oriented offense.

This grade suffers slightly because I'm not convinced that the Niners needed to trade up to select OT Anthony Davis.  Nevertheless, the pick of Davis and guard Mike Iupati are maulers that should please Frank Gore and Glen Coffee.

Adding Taylor Mays and Navorro Bowman in the second and third rounds are great value picks to ensure the quality of the defense.

St. Louis Rams: B

With as many holes as the Rams have, the Rams needed a load of picks.  Cleveland had made an offer to trade up for the first pick, while the Rams also took calls for the 33rd pick.

Yet, the Rams stood pat and took the desired players in quarterback Sam Bradford, offensive-tackle Rodger Saffold, cornerback Jerome Murphy, and wideout Mardy Gilyard.

A team in the Rams position should have taken quantity of picks rather than to just take the desired players.  I know this is 20/20 hindsight, but the fact is, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy were available in later rounds, so even though Bradford will be a star, the Rams could have loaded up on talent for a good foundation.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A-

Despite the record, the Bucs have more potential than you might think. 

The Bucs fortified the middle of the defensive-line with a duo of tackles that both have Pro Bowl potential in Gerald McCoy and Brian Price.  Both of whom should benefit defensive-ends Jimmy Wilkerson and Stylez White.

The problem for Tampa in 2009 was the lack of an experienced quarterback.  The Bucs also lost wideout Antonio Bryant in free agency, but added rookies Arrellious Benn and Mike Williams.

This grade suffer slightly because the Bucs seem content to stick with Josh Freeman at quarterback when Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell had been available.  With an experienced quarterback, the Bucs could be a contender.  But Freeman is likely two or three years away from that and the wideouts are in the same situation.

Tennessee Titans: B+

Long story short, the Titans beefed up the defense with great value in defensive end Derrick Morgan, safety Robert Johnson, linebacker Ronnie Curran, and safety Myron Rolle.

Washington Redskins: C+

Okay, so the Denver Broncos took offensive tackle Trent Williams and acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb by trading a second round pick. 

Mike Shanahan knows his offensive tackles, as evidenced by Ryan Clady.  Conversely, Shanahan also took George Foster in 2003.

The Redskins also opted for McNabb over previous quarterback Jason Campbell.  Either McNabb will be the next John Elway, or the answer to the riddle of: what is the sound of one hand clapping?

It seems that talent-wise McNabb does not add anything that Campbell wasn't bringing.  McNabb has the track-record, but could be past his prime.  Conversely, Campbell has a similar skill set as McNabb, but without the track-record.

Thus, the decision to acquire McNabb and take Williams instead of Russell Okung is a "wait and see" situation.  After Williams, the Redskins had few picks as usual, and most of whom were seventh round picks.

 

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